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Mother, Mother: A Novel | [Koren Zailckas]

Mother, Mother: A Novel

Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. But living in this matriarch's determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn't been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.
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Publisher's Summary

From Koren Zailckas, author of the iconic memoir Smashed: an electrifying debut novel about a family being torn apart by the woman who claims to love them most.

Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. But living in this matriarch's determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn't been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.

Resentful of her sister's newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he's separated from the other kids around town and is homeschooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family's impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.

Written with the style, dark wit and shrewd psychological insight that made Smashed a best seller, Zailckas's first novel is unforgettable. In the spirit of classic suspense novels by Shirley Jackson and Daphne DuMaurier, Mother, Mother is the terrifying story of a mother's love gone too far, and the introduction of a commanding new voice in fiction.

©2013 Koren Zailckas (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"A riveting fiction debut…it's the kind of book that keeps you up at night, featuring a mother to rival Medea or Mrs. Bates…The shocking and violent denouement shows Zailckas to be a consummate storyteller." (Publishers Weekly)

"Zailckas crafts an intriguing mystery surrounding this family that will keep readers on edge as she slowly peels back layer after layer of deception." (Booklist)

"A hall of mirrors reflecting chaotic maternal psychological mayhem reminiscent of Mommie Dearest or Push or Ordinary People." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (53 )
5 star
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3.7 (48 )
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4.1 (48 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Vivi 07-30-14
    Vivi 07-30-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    18
    8
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    Story
    "Decent read, but predictable."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It was too predictable.


    What about Rebecca Lowman’s performance did you like?

    Performance was good. Definitely helped make the story better.


    Was Mother, Mother worth the listening time?

    Was worth listening to. Decent book but not a page turner.


    Any additional comments?

    Good story, but wouldn't listen to it twice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison 05-29-14
    Alison 05-29-14 Member Since 2012

    I'm an Aspen, CO based journalist/aspiring novelist and love to listen to popular fiction to get a sense of what's currently on the market!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Haunting and fun -- a great listen!"
    Any additional comments?

    Great writing, great story,and a cast of wonderfully disturbing characters. Narrator was great, too. Best book I've listened to in a while.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie West linn, OR, United States 03-16-14
    Julie West linn, OR, United States 03-16-14 Member Since 2013

    I love books that take me outside of myself. Despite my degree in literature, I am not a snob! love any story that needs to be told.

    ratings
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    9
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    Story
    "Wow, I could not stop listening!"
    What made the experience of listening to Mother, Mother the most enjoyable?

    Yes, the Mother was despicable, but in a real life -not over the top --way, and I found her a fascinating character. The book was performed the best of any audio book I have ever heard and I really commend the speaker, she was amazing.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Violet was by far my favorite character. She is a 16 yr old girl trying to find her way in and out of the world's most dysfunctional family. As the mother of a 16 yr old myself, I found her character realistic and lovable. I was cheering her on all the way.


    Which character – as performed by Rebecca Lowman – was your favorite?

    Awesome work by Ms. Lowman! I was kind of amazed at the different ways she portrayed the different characters. She portrayed Josephine (mother) the best and literally gave me chills. Plus, she did not sound weird doing the male voices like some performers do when acting for the opposite sex.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are interested in psychological profiles --this is the book for you. I loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gabriela Bishop, GA, United States 01-12-14
    Gabriela Bishop, GA, United States 01-12-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Narration at it's best"
    Would you listen to Mother, Mother again? Why?

    Yes, the narrator's voice is so engaging


    What other book might you compare Mother, Mother to and why?

    Gone Girl


    What about Rebecca Lowman’s performance did you like?

    She is my favorite narrator, the majority of my audiobooks are narrated by Rebecca Lowman


    If you could take any character from Mother, Mother out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Violet


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margot Lexington, KY, United States 10-26-13
    Margot Lexington, KY, United States 10-26-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Surprised by all the rave reviews"

    Based on great reviews by reputable sources, I really expected to enjoy this book a lot. Not so!

    Aside from some fairly sophisticated psychological analyses of the effects of parental emotional abuse and of narcissistic personality disorder, I don't think this book has much to offer. The mother is a largely one dimensional character and thus it became easy for me to predict many of the things that were going to happen next. While there are some mysteries that unfold at a nice pace and a few real surprises, I was mostly bored by this story.

    Another reviewer mentioned that if you like Gillian Flynn's writing (Gone Girl), you are likely to enjoy this book. I agree, although I did not enjoy Gone Girl myself. The two books seem similar to me in that one needs to enjoy being a spectator of very calculating, heartless people--along with some big plot twists and turns--to enjoy these books. What I found missing from both books were the more subtle dynamics of relationships that can make a book really great. There just weren't enough layers or shades of grey to make this book compelling for me.

    That said, Gone Girl is a very popular book, so Mother, Mother may very well appeal to a large audience. Though I did not find it very interesting or enjoyable, I am probably in the minority. So do read other reviews and take mine with a grain of salt.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Hillsborough, CA, United States 10-04-13
    Chris Hillsborough, CA, United States 10-04-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Moving story, compelling characters"

    Well written story of a disfunctional family, told from two completely different perspectives. This tale brought out deep feelings for all the characters, from sympathy and empathy, to loathing and incredulty. Great narration from Rebecca Lowman. If you like Gillian Flynn's work, this is a book for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Palmer Pearland, TX 07-15-14
    Deborah Palmer Pearland, TX 07-15-14 Member Since 2012

    Kindle Lover Debby

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Listened to on the road. Great diversion"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mother, Mother?

    The moment when I realized that Rose was dead and that Josephine was the one that had been writing to Victoria all along.


    Which character – as performed by Rebecca Lowman – was your favorite?

    Victoria


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me frustrated and angry with touches of sadness for the characters


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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